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Time to visit the doctor

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For obvious reasons the progress of the teams, as they race towards the end line, is watched with an eagle’s eye by the followers

The Absa Premier Soccer League has reached that stage in the season where friendships are made and some lost on the mere basis of an opinion or act regarding the progress or lack thereof of your favourite team in the championship stakes.

The league has now played, at most, 20 matches by some teams. For these teams, just 10 matches remain to be played.

For obvious reasons the progress of the teams, as they race towards the end line, is watched with an eagle’s eye by the followers.

The wish of those followers with clubs at the top rung is for their team to make a grab for the league title. That is purely so that the winners may have a year’s worth of bragging rights with which to irritate your not-so-lucky opposition members.

For the teams at the bottom half of the scale, the pressure is for the club not to lose its footing in this very lucrative league on the continent. The consequences of slipping are too ghastly to contemplate.

At this time of the season, football superstition is at its m ost acute. Dare you make a misplaced comment in the presence of the ‘wrong crowd’ you are likely to either get hit by a ton of bricks or ejected if not rejected for your observations.

You might have noticed by now that none other than a noted football personality such as Pitso Mosimane has stopped complaining about favouritism on the part of the whistle persons. Those in the know say it’s because it’s ‘doctor’ consultation time at almost all the team boardrooms.

Even those at the top still find a reason to go out to ‘consult’ against faltering, just for insurance.

They say a team such as Kaizer Chiefs, who have been leaders of the pack for a sustained period after such a long absence at the top, will surely be inspired to get ‘insurance’ against being bewitched out of the top spot.

I can’t argue with that.

After all, we’ve seen too many videos of team handlers entering a pitch before the game and surreptitiously sprinkle stuff around the goalposts. I am not sure whether the stuff actually delivers on the specifications.

I do note, though, the majestic rise of the Buccaneers from somewhere in the middle of the table rankings to within a neck’s breadth of the lead team, Kaizer Chiefs. This switch-over in fortunes is almost miraculous given that they went for more than five games without a win with local coach Rhulani Mokwena. But then shifted into top gear with the arrival of the new coach. Makes you think neh?

Talking about coaches, I see that Lamontville Golden Arrows are into slaying giants of late. Just this past weekend Steve Komphela’s side claimed the scalp of SuperSport United.

That win moved them just inside the top eight boundary.

Steve, like Manqoba Mnqgithi before him, seems to have a mesmerising effect on the KZN side. Arrows are usually content to be bottom-half residents of the league table. It just goes to show what a good coach can do for a team’s fortunes.

I recall, some many moons back, when Arrows had a guesthouse just up our street. There myself and a neighbourhood pal – whose house was next to the Arrows guesthouse – were privileged to witness the ‘team doctor’ do his thing with the squad prior to a match.

The team would line up before the ‘doctor’ at something like dawn and he, dressed in an assortment of attire appropriate to his trade, complete with a monkey skull and some whistles and animal skins, including bone fragments, would dip a horsetail fan in a liquid and spray each player at the front and the back. I don’t recall Arrows winning against our local giants though, despite this ritual.

Anyway,the chase for the league is on. Keep watching. Salang.